My Doctoral Program

I received word earlier today that my application to the University of Exeter’s PhD in Theology and Religion has been successful, and I start in September. It’s a distance program, so I will stay in my new home and keep my wonderful job. My advisors will be Francesca Stavrakopoulou and Siam Bhayro, and the title of the dissertation I proposed is “Divine Agency in Early Israelite and Jewish Literature and Cult.” If you’re interested in reading the proposal, you can find it here. The program will be funded thanks to a generous offer from BYU’s Religious Studies Dissertation Grant Program. I’m very excited to begin doctoral studies after so many unsuccessful attempts, and I greatly appreciate all the help and counsel I’ve received along the way from so many out there. Thank you!


10 responses to “My Doctoral Program

  • Josh Sears

    Awesome news!

  • kristianheal

    Congratulations Daniel! Exeter is a great University and you have fantastic advisers.

  • isaacsoon

    Hey Daniel, was wondering (if you don’t mind) if you could share why so many of your previous attempts were unsuccessful?

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      I don’t mind at all. I was actually accepted to a PhD program at Claremont Graduate University right out of my BA, but with only 30% funding. I deferred for a year to complete my master’s degree at Oxford, anticipating finding additional funding for Claremont in the interim. Near the end of my program at Oxford, though, I got an email telling me they were restructuring their degree program and would not be accepting new students that year, so “find something else to do,” basically. It was well past PhD application deadlines, so I had to scramble to find something and ended up entering another master’s program.

      The next time I applied for PhDs, I applied to only a few programs. I was told by both my letter writers that the person in charge of one of the programs to which I had applied had personally contacted them to discuss me as a candidate. They said I should take that as a great sign, but I never got an interview and my application was actually misplaced, forcing me to call after April 15 to ask what the decision was. Evidently I was next in line, but all their offers accepted. My other applications (Yale, UT-Austin) were also unsuccessful.

      The next year I applied to return to Oxford for the DPhil, and was accepted, but was not offered enough funding. I had to turn it down, and then a few weeks later I had the pleasure of getting an email from Oxford asking me to donate money to help them give money to new PhD students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford their programs. I wrote a sternly worded email back to them.

      • Morgan Deane

        Thanks for sharing this Daniel. I’ve been accepted to Kings College London and I’m facing similar issues with funding and other problems. Its good to see things work out for you and give me hope.

  • James Norton

    contgrats and good luck.

  • diglot


    I’ve been recently looking into doing a PhD in Theology through distance, but the cost requirements are quite prohibitive!

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      Thanks! Yeah, I wouldn’t be able to do it without the grant I got from BYU. It’s a rough business.

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